Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) 1805

Studio of John Hoppner RA (1756 - 1810)

Portrait of William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), Studio of John Hoppner RA
Oil on canvas
18th Century
30 x 24 inches (76 x 62.9 cm.)
With Thos. Agnew & Sons, London, 1921.
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William Pitt sat for Hoppner at the artist's residence in what would be his last portrait sitting. Initially exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1806, George Scharf described the primary (three-quarter length) version on display at the National Portrait Gallery as showing the sitter's ''ruddy and close shaven face....the hair is grey from powder, some of which lies on the collar of the coat''.

Pitt and Hoppner were close contemporaries and the evident world-weariness in the heavy eyelids and solemnity of expression suggests a certain amount of empathy on the artist's part as his sitter's health began to deteriorate. Finished in October 1805, ''the work had not been sent home when Pitt died (Clint had been engraving it). Then came applications from the most intimate friends of the deceased statesman for copies. All these, made before the original was sent home, were by the express permission of Lord Mulgrave''(1) .

(1) Lord Normanby to Earl Stanhope, 2 May 1862. Taken from The Works of John Hoppner RA, William McKay and W. Roberts, 1909
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